How to get Married to a Spanish Citizen as a Foreigner in Spain

Created: Oct 11, 2023 | Updated: Feb 29, 2024

Imagine the vibrant fusion of two cultures coming together under the warm Spanish sun! Getting married in Spain can be an enriching experience, however, the journey of a multinational marriage, from tying the knot to settling down, is dotted with legal intricacies.

Table of Contents

The Process of Getting Married in Spain

When love transcends national boundaries, it often brings with it a unique set of challenges and rewards. One such challenge for those engaging in an intercultural marriage in Spain is navigating the bureaucratic path to an official union. Marrying a Spanish national or partaking in a cross-cultural wedding in Spain involves a specific process, especially if one party is a non-resident. Here's a detailed breakdown of the process of getting married in Spain:

  1. Decide on the Type of Marriage: Before diving into paperwork, decide whether you want a civil or religious wedding. Each of these has its own set of requirements.
  2. Gather Necessary Documentation: Both parties will need to provide various documents, such as birth certificates, passports, proof of residency, and more. If one has been previously married, divorce or death certificates are also essential.
  3. Sworn Translation: Any document not originally in Spanish must undergo a sworn translation in Spain to be considered valid. This ensures that all your documents are understood accurately by the Spanish authority.
  4. File the Application: Submit the application and necessary documents to the local Civil Registry. Non-residents might need to present additional paperwork, proving they're legally allowed to marry in Spain.
  5. Pre-marriage Interview: To ensure the marriage isn't a sham, some regions in Spain may require a pre-marriage interview. This is an informal chat to ascertain the genuineness of the relationship.
  6. Approval and Marriage Date: Once the documents are verified and the authorities are satisfied, you will receive approval. Subsequently, you can pick a date for your wedding.
  7. Official Marriage: On the set date, the wedding is officiated, either at a Civil Registry office, a town hall, or a religious venue, depending on the type of wedding you've chosen.


Legal Requirements and Documentation

There are several laws that govern weddings between a foreigner and a resident in Spain, and if you would like to have a hassle-free ceremony, you should familiarize yourself with them for compliance. The Spanish laws governing marriage in Spain are:

  • At least one of you should be a Spanish resident.
  • Both of you must be 18 years or older.
  • Neither you nor your partner can be married to someone else at the time of the wedding.
  • You can't be related by blood.
  • You must both provide a set of standard documents.
  • You must undergo a pre-marriage interview, to ensure the genuineness of the relationship.
  • Even if you opt for a religious wedding, you must register the marriage civilly for it to be legally recognized in Spain.

To facilitate the wedding process in Spain between a foreigner and a citizen, couples must provide the following essential documents:

  • Birth Certificates: Both parties must provide their original birth certificates. If the foreign partner's birth certificate isn't in Spanish, it needs to undergo a sworn translation in Spain to ensure its validity.
  • Proof of Residency: The foreign partner must provide evidence of their legal status in Spain. This can be a Spanish residence card, a visa, or any other relevant documentation. It's also essential for the Spanish partner to provide their official residency documentation.
  • Divorce or Death Certificates: If either party was previously married and is now divorced, or if their spouse has passed away, relevant certificates must be presented. 
  • Certificate of No Impediment: This is a declaration affirming that there are no legal barriers to the marriage. The foreign partner must obtain this from their country's embassy or consulate in Spain.
  • Pre-marital Certificate: This is a result of the pre-marriage interview conducted by Spanish authorities to ensure the marriage is genuine and not for convenience.
  • Passport: If you are the foreigner in your union, you would be required to present your valid passport.


Types of Marriages in Spain: Civil vs. Religious

If you are getting married in Spain, there are primarily two types of wedding ceremonies for you to consider; Civil and Religious. Both ceremonies come with their unique sets of traditions, and requirements. Let's dive deeper into the intricacies of these ceremonies and the importance of clear communication, especially in the context of a multinational matrimony.


Civil Marriages

Civil marriages are secular ceremonies held at a local civil registry or a town hall. They are recognized by the state and don't require any religious affiliation. If you or your spouse-to-be are from a diverse religious background or you prefer a non-religious setting, civil marriages are an ideal choice.

Key Considerations

Bilingual Officiants: If one of you is not fluent in Spanish, a bilingual officiant can make your ceremony more inclusive.


Religious Marriages

Religious marriages are ceremonies conducted in a religious setting, such as a church, mosque, synagogue, or temple. Spain, with its rich Catholic heritage, sees many Catholic weddings. However, Spain recognizes marriages from other faiths too.


Church Wedding


Key Considerations

Religious Documentation: Apart from the standard legal documents, religious marriages may require additional documentation, like baptismal certificates for Catholic weddings.

Ceremony Translation: Especially in cross-cultural weddings, parts of the ceremony might need translation. This is where professional translation services or bilingual officiants play a pivotal role. They ensure that the sanctity of the ceremony is preserved while making it understandable to all.


The Importance of Clear Communication in the Wedding Process in Spain

Regardless of the type of marriage, clear communication is paramount. In an intercultural marriage in Spain, where families and guests might speak different languages, the ceremony's essence can be lost without accurate translation.

Tips for Ensuring Clear Communication

  • Hire Bilingual Officiants or Translators: Some officiants in Spain are bilingual, especially in regions with a high expatriate population. They can effortlessly switch between languages, making the ceremony engaging for everyone. If a bilingual officiant isn't available, consider hiring a professional translator. They can provide real-time translations, ensuring everyone remains involved.
  • Use Certified Translation Services: For any document translation you might need along the way, services like Translayte’s ensure accuracy and adherence to Spanish norms.
  • Pre-Ceremony Meetings: Arrange meetings with the officiant before the wedding day. This will allow the couple to discuss specific requirements, understand the flow of the ceremony, and address any concerns. For religious ceremonies, discuss potential language barriers with the religious institution in advance.


Planning Your Dream Wedding in Spain 

You would expect that since you are planning the wedding of your dreams, everything should be peachy. We also wish it was so, logistics can often become a challenge. International guests, unfamiliar with Spanish customs or language, may find it daunting to navigate the wedding process. Issues can range from understanding the wedding itinerary, dietary preferences, to navigating local transportation. Ensuring that your guests feel comfortable and included is paramount. Here are some issues you can anticipate while planning your wedding or on your wedding day and simple solutions to avoid them:

  1. Challenge: Cultural Misunderstandings or Missteps
    Solution: Prior to the wedding, share a brief guide about Spanish wedding customs with international guests. This can help them understand the traditions and avoid potential cultural faux pas.
  2. Challenge: Dietary Restrictions
    Solution: Offer a diverse menu that caters to various dietary needs. Ensure that menus are translated and clearly indicate vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, or other specific options.
  3. Challenge: Transportation Difficulties
    Solution: Arrange for group transportation or shuttle services from hotels to the wedding venue. This ensures that guests don't get lost and arrive on time.
  4. Challenge: Accommodation Variabilities
    Solution: Reserve blocks of rooms in hotels of varying price ranges. Provide guests with detailed information about the accommodations, ensuring they choose what suits their budget and comfort.
  5. Challenge: Time Zone Differences and Jet Lag
    Solution: Consider scheduling the wedding a few days after most international guests arrive. This gives them time to adjust and recover from potential jet lag.
  6. Challenge: Unfamiliarity with Local Etiquette and Dress Codes
    Solution: Include a section in the invitation or a separate guide that explains the expected attire and any specific cultural etiquette related to the wedding.
  7. Challenge: Last-minute RSVPs or Changes
    Solution: Keep a buffer in your planning for unexpected guests or changes. Communicate clearly with guests about the importance of timely RSVPs.
  8. Challenge: Financial Concerns (Currency differences, banking access).
    Solution: Provide information about currency exchange rates, local banking facilities, and digital payment options available in Spain.
  9. Challenge: Guests Feeling Out of Place or Isolated
    Solution: Organize pre-wedding events or mixers that allow guests from different backgrounds to mingle and get to know each other. Assign a local buddy or guide to small groups of international guests to help them navigate the wedding and local customs.

By anticipating these challenges and preparing solutions in advance, couples can ensure that their international guests have a memorable and comfortable experience at their Spanish wedding.


The Importance of Translation

The significance of having well-translated wedding materials can’t be overstressed. Invitations, for instance, are the first touchpoint for your guests. A bilingual or well-translated invitation sets a welcoming tone, ensuring that everyone, regardless of their linguistic background, feels included.

Furthermore, programs guide guests through the wedding, detailing each event and ritual. For guests unfamiliar with Spanish customs or traditions, translated programs can provide clarity and deepen their engagement with the ceremony.

Menus also play a critical role. Spain is renowned for its rich culinary traditions. Translated menus will allow your guests to fully appreciate and enjoy the spread, ensuring they can make choices aligned with their dietary preferences or restrictions.

Finally, when communicating with vendors you should know that not all vendors are fluent in English or other languages. This can pose challenges, especially when detailing specific requirements for the wedding. To ensure your vision is realized perfectly, it's essential to have clear communication. Here, an effective translation tool will be invaluable. By facilitating effective communication with vendors, from florists to caterers, you can ensure that every detail aligns with your vision.


How can Translayte Help?

At Translayte, we understand the intricacies and importance of ensuring that every word, every sentiment, is conveyed accurately and with sensitivity. This is a special day for you, and any hiccup could potentially affect how you remember your wedding day for years to come. We dont want that, and that is why we offer our translation services to make your big day more memorable.

Our team of professional translators is well-versed in a wide array of languages and specializes in various fields. This ensures that whether you need translations for your wedding invitations, programs, or even vendor contracts, the context and cultural nuances will be perfectly captured. We believe that language should never be a barrier but a bridge that brings people closer.

When it comes to documentation, especially those required for the legalities of marriage in Spain, precision is paramount. Our certified translation services ensure that all your important documents are translated with the utmost accuracy. We ensure that these translations are accepted by Spanish authorities, giving you one less thing to worry about in your wedding preparations.


Immigration and Residency: Navigating Legalities

You may be tempted to feel overwhelmed by the countless paperwork that will eventually allow you and your beloved to be together, but don’t give in to it. It would help to constantly think about the satisfaction of your life in Spain with your spouse when the dust settles. Fo this to happen, we share a detailed breakdown to guide you through getting your Spanish residency:

  1. Residence Visa for Family Reunification
    If you are the foreign partner, you must first apply for a residence visa for family reunification before you can reside in Spain. This visa is essential for those who wish to live in Spain for more than 90 days.
  2. Documentation
    The required documents include:
    - Visa application form: duly filled and signed.
    - Passport: Valid for at least four months from the date of visa application.
    - Marriage Certificate: This confirms the legitimacy of the marriage.
    - Criminal Record: A police clearance from the home country, proving no criminal record for the past five years.
    - Medical Certificate: A report that certifies the applicant doesn’t suffer from any diseases that could have serious public repercussions.

    All these documents, if not originally in Spanish, must be accompanied by a sworn translation.
  3. Applying for a Residence Card
    Once in Spain, you should apply for a Foreigner’s Identity Card (TIE) within one month of arrival. This card confirms your right to reside in Spain.
  4. Renewal of the Residence Card
    The initial residence card is valid for one year. After this period, you can renew it for two more years (and subsequently for five years). The renewal process involves proving that you both are still married and reside together.
  5. Permanent Residency
    As the foreign partner, after five years of continuous residence in Spain, you can apply for permanent residency. This will allow you to live and work indefinitely in Spain.
  6. Spanish Dual Citizenship
    When you have lived in Spain for ten years, there's an option to apply for Spanish citizenship. However, for spouses of Spanish citizens, this duration is reduced, and you can apply after just one year of legal residence.
  7. Integration Agreement (Arraigo)
    For those who have lived in Spain irregularly for some years, there's a pathway called Arraigo. It's a type of residency permit granted under specific conditions, including proving a stay in Spain for at least three years, having family ties, or having a job offer.



As discussed in this article, melding two different cultures in matrimony may not be the easiest thing to do, due to its unique set of challenges, notably in terms of legal and communication intricacies. A significant aspect that we highlighted is the indispensable role of translation in ensuring smooth communication and understanding, be it in wedding ceremonies, vendor discussions, or legal documentation. Translayte is available for you as a dependable partner in this journey, providing meticulous and culturally sensitive translation services tailored to these multifaceted scenarios. 

As you both embark on the beautiful voyage of your marriage in Spain, we wish you a successful journey and a blissful union. Enhorabuena!



Can I Live in Spain if I Marry a Spaniard? 

Yes, marrying a Spaniard can facilitate residency.

Can a Non-Resident Get Married in Spain?

Yes, non-residents can get married in Spain, but the process can be a bit more intricate. In addition to the standard required documents, non-residents often have to provide proof of their legal status in their home country and a certificate of no impediment to the marriage. This certificate ensures that there are no legal barriers to the marriage in the foreigner's home country.

What are the Benefits of Being Married in Spain? 

Access to shared property rights, potential for dual citizenship, and residency rights.

Do Translations for Immigration Need to be Notarized? 

Often, yes. When dealing with immigration processes, especially in countries like Spain, the translation of documents often requires an additional layer of verification to ensure their authenticity and accuracy. This is where notarization comes into play.

Who is Eligible for Permanent Residency in Spain? 

Those who have lived legally in Spain for five years.

Can you get Married in Spain on a Tourist Visa? 

Technically, yes, but the process is complex.

What Documents Do I Need to Marry a Spanish Citizen? 

Birth certificate, proof of residency, and other applicable documents.

If We Live in Different Cities, Where Should We Get Married? 

Typically in the city where the Spanish resident lives.

If I get Married Outside Spain, is the Marriage Equally Valid? 

Yes, if proper procedures are followed and documents are validated in Spain.


Read More:

Getting Married in Italy: Legal Requirements

Getting Married in Malta: Legal Requirements

Spanish Residency After Brexit for UK Citizens

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